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Re: SEUL: request for comments on independence document (fwd)

Date: Mon, 03 Jan 2000 01:02:15 GMT
From: Doug Loss <dloss@suscom.net>
To: seul-pub@seul.org
Subject: Re: SEUL: request for comments on independence document (fwd)

On Sun, 2 Jan 2000, Roger R Dingledine wrote:

> I have written a piece of text as a reaction to my experiences with the
> Linux community on usability.
> I really need some subjective views on it. Do you agree with the
> contents? Do you think that I have gone too far? 
> I want to learn from this "RFC" if my writing/ opinion is any good. So
> be honest with your reactions: if it isn't, I can just as easily get
> another hobby ;-)

There is something to what you say.  That is one of the primary reasons for the
existence of SEUL.  One of the major aspects of the Linux community, as I see
it, is that those who actually do the work are more respected than those who just
talk about it or complain about it (I don't mean you by that).  I think that
the best way to approach the problem of usability (one that's near and dear to us
on SEUL/edu, as we can't possibly expect all the overworked teachers we hope to
reach to become hardcore Linux hackers) is to ignore the loudmouths who complain
about making things *too* easy to use, and to work to improve the usability of
Linux and its various programs as best you can.  If this means designing new
sortware interfaces, fine.  If it means writing improved end-user manuals, fine. 
But it's important to work towards the goal rather than endlessly debating the
inevitable naysayers who will tell you why anything you think of can't and
shouldn't be done.

I don't agree that big business should determine the usability issues.  They
haven't done notably well in the Windows and Mac worlds.  Instead, if you're
concerned about usability I think it's best to learn about HCI (Human-Computer
Interfaces) and technical and educational writing.  Don't assume that what has been
done in the commercial world is better (or even good).  Look for real data about
usability and try to apply them to your work on Linux.

Doug Loss            Always acknowledge a fault.  This will throw
dloss@suscom.net     those in authority off their guard and give
(570) 326-3987       you the opportunity to commit more.
                        Mark Twain